The employee and employer relationship dynamic differs depending on what the organisation’s strategic goals are and also, to some extent, in what type of industry they operate in. It seems that the modern approach to employee relationships leans heavily on Unitarism, which Truss et al (2012: 15) describe as having a common purpose among employees and employers, with emphasis on employee commitment and loyalty. This ideology sees ‘the employment relationship based on management prerogative, valuing labour individually’ (Beardwell and Claydon (2010: 689).
In a company that uses a unitary approach, HR may use individualistic options such as a reward strategy and performance management in order to achieve specific organisational goals. For example, an electrical company I once worked for saw a change in the market and decided to diversify into solar powered technology. To gain a greater market share, sales bonuses on solar products were placed at a premium to encourage staff to find new customers. The company also sent sales staff and technicians on courses so that they could learn about the new products. For this organisation, the entire team understood the need for diversification and were happy to work hard. Training and reward were the key to getting staff motivated and committed to achieving.
The pluralistic approach is defined by Beardwell and Claydon (2010: 687) as ‘recognising inequality between capital and labour where each of the interest groups has some conflicting and some common aims’. This approach can be seen commonly these days in the public sector, where many employees are at the mercy of cost-saving organisational strategies, leaving them with no pay increases, training opportunities or career paths. Employee engagement is fraught with conflict as unpopular choices are deployed to align with strategy.
Do you have any examples of how a pluralistic approach is helping to achieve organisational strategy in the private sector?